PLANS for a new 24-hour casino in Bournemouth town centre are “disappointing”, according to a councillor.

Aspers’ Casino has applied to open a new venue in the ‘BH2’ leisure and retail development currently under construction in Exeter Road.

According to the application, backed by BH2 developers Legal & General and Licet Holdings Ltd, the gambling firm has been planning a move to Bournemouth for 10 years and already possesses a licence to operate in the town.

It would take over two of the largest units in the centre to create a two floor casino, open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. It would feature live jazz music, a VIP area and electronic gaming machines.

In a statement, Aspers says: “Aspers’ international experience supports its belief that, by locating a state of the art casino in a new leisure and entertainment destination, more visitors will be attracted, both locally and from further afield, and with more options for entertainment, will stay longer, benefiting the leisure, retail and hospitality businesses.”

There are currently two other casinos in Bournemouth, operated by Genting in Yelverton Road and Grosvenor in Westover Road.

Ward councillor Bob Chapman said: “Bearing in mind we already have two casinos in the town, and the fact this was never suggested when the development was proposed, I am not very happy.

“I am not holier-than-thou about casinos, but people will be coming and going throughout the night and disturbing residents who already have enough problems at the moment with nightclub clientele.

“This is such a massive building, it is very disappointing that they are clearly having difficulty filling it.”

He said he would be calling in the application to be discussed by the planning committee.

The original planning permission for the West Central complex said that the units had to be marketed for 18 months as retail or restaurants. That time has now elapsed, allowing the developer to apply for a change of use.

Aspers’ says it is “firmly committed” to responsible gambling and works with local authorities at its other sites - including London, Milton Keynes and Newcastle - to “identify and evaluate any appearance of problem gambling in the local community”.

Problem gambling charity GamCare said the company had been “working up front” to tackle the issue in Southampton, where it is due to open a casino in the Royal Pier Waterfront development.

GamCare communications manager Catherine Sweet said: “There are always going to be people who develop issues relating to gambling.

“We advise that a risk assessment is done up front, and if a risk is identified from a cluster of gambling venues the operators should work with local authorities to make sure the risks are managed as soon as possible.”

Plans for a new casino - which would also have been run by Aspers - caused an outcry back in 2006 when they formed part of the Pavilion Gardens project put forward by developer Trevor Osborne.

That multi-million pound scheme collapsed two years ago, in part due to the success of the BH2 scheme in attracting key tenants like Odeon.

BH2 - formerly West Central - is due to open early next year, with a 10-screen Odeon cinema and restaurants including Las Iguanas, Joe’s Kitchen and Bella Italia.